The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

May 18, 2009

Fear #3

see May 16, 2009 (Fear #2)

In his book River of Compassion, Bede Griffiths invites us to become the instruments by which the endless cycle of fear is broken. Griffiths writes,
when we have perfect fearlessness,
nothing is afraid of us.
Fearless people are the antidote to the tragic violence both small and great engendered by the constant fear in which we so often live.

So, how do we become fearless people?

We cannot think our way out of fear. Fearlessness is not rational. Being afraid often makes more sense than being fearless. Many things are frightening. People get terribly ill; people lose their jobs; marriages fail; children rebel. It does not matter how good we are; bad things happen to good people.

Fear is a deeply ingrained reaction that springs from the depths of our being. Fear comes unbidden to most of us. It emerges on automatic.

So how do we learn new ways of responding?

We train ourselves in new responses by consciously and regularly choosing a new way of behaving.

I choose a new way of behaving by facing every day the primordial human fear. Human beings fear emptiness. Human beings fear there is nothing, or no one, out there. We fear we are alone in an uncaring, dark and desperate universe.

For twenty minutes twice every day I sit in the face of this fear. I close my eyes; sit completely still; say silently a simple word two or three times, then sit until I notice my mind rushing after some thought. In the tight knot of fear and the chaotic tumble of thinking, I repeat my little word and sit some more. Over and over, I return to that space, that space wherein lies all that I most fear, that space that feels at first empty, frightening, and dangerous.

Over the years of sitting, gradually, slowly, almost imperceptibly as I have returned to this space, a new awareness has begun to grow. I have come to know that, in that place I thought was empty, I am not alone. There is in this dark silence, a deep strength. I see light; I know the Presence of Love. I am not alone. I experience in a place deeper than my fear that there is something/Someone much bigger and more real than all I have ever feared. And I know that this force of Love holds; it does not let me down and therefore I need not be afraid.

I do not know any other way to get to this place than the shear determination to return again and again to that silence, that stillness wherein the God who takes away all fear is discovered to dwell. Through the Psalmist God instructs us, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10) We get to trust by practicing trust, by stopping our frantic running away from fear. We get to Love by opening again and again to the stillness and the peace. We get to fearlessness by facing our fears and finding at their centre dwells the fearless heart of God.

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